Viacom’s CBS Committee Loaded With New Redstone Appointees

  • Five of six on panel were elected by Redstone family in June
  • Directors will evaluate controlling shareholders’ merger push

Viacom Inc. named six directors to a special committee that will explore a merger with CBS Corp., including five recently appointed to the board by the Redstone family’s National Amusements Inc., which controls both companies.

Independent directors Thomas May and Nicole Seligman will act as co-chairs, and be joined by Kenneth Lerer, Judith McHale, Ronald Nelson and Charles Phillips, according to a statement Friday. All but Phillips are recent appointees by National Amusements, which requested the companies consider combining after a corporate shake-up at Viacom that included the ouster of Chief Executive Officer Philippe Dauman.

A decade after billionaire mogul Sumner Redstone split Viacom and CBS in two, his daughter Shari Redstone is pushing to reunite the companies under CBS CEO Leslie Moonves and revive Viacom’s flagging television and film businesses. Moonves had maintained a far more cordial relationship with the younger Redstone than Dauman.

On their own, CBS and Viacom are much smaller than peers such as Time Warner Inc. and 21st Century Fox Inc. Together, the company would rival them in annual sales, with the most-watched broadcast network, a suite of cable networks and the Paramount Pictures film studio.

The committee has retained Debevoise & Plimpton LLP as its independent legal adviser, and expects to retain an independent financial adviser.

CBS has also formed a committee to evaluate a merger, according to a spokeswoman, who didn’t specify its members.

Viacom rose 0.9 percent to $38.10 at the close in New York, its fourth-straight day of gains. National Amusements said on Thursday it wanted the company and CBS to consider getting back together. CBS rose 0.3 percent to $54.74, its sixth consecutive gain.

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